Mr President, Kenyans need justice before reconciliation

Your Excellency,

Kenyans collectively express their hopes, fears and dreams every five years through elections. However, politicians in Kenya used vitriolic rhetoric to exploit ethnic divisions in order to get elected. As you take office, your actions going forward will shape Kenya’s future and determine your legacy.

Mr President, Kenyans entrust you to prioritize their interests and welfare, regardless of political affiliations and ethnic backgrounds. They expect you to “respect, uphold and safeguard the Constitution; to promote and enhance the unity of the nation; to promote respect for the diversity of the people and communities of Kenya; ensure the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and uphold the rule of law.”

A nation’s strength lies in its people’s ability to express their views and aspirations without fear. But despite freedom of assembly and expression being cornerstones of the Kenyan Constitution, the recent elections have seen a wave of violence. The police response to protesting crowds and public gathering was marked by excessive and unlawful force including the use of live ammunition, leading to multiple deaths and injuries.

Since the 1 September historic Supreme Court’s ruling, nullifying the 8 August presidential elections, high ranking members of the Jubilee Party have publicly attacked members of the judiciary.

Even before the elections, the electoral commission suffered a credibility deficit. The judiciary reversed the procurement of the ballot papers, and some of the commissioners and members of the secretariat were accused of favouring one side of the political divide.

The people of Kenya deserve state institutions - the police, the courts, and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) -  that protect and respect the rights of all Kenyans.

Kenyans need a progressive and rights-respecting country. Kenya must progress by safeguarding and advancing the rights of all individuals.

Mr. President, Kenyans need truth, justice and reconciliation. Let justice be our shield and defender.

  • Establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations by the police in response to public protests during the 2017 post-election period.
  • Direct police and other relevant state agencies such as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to urgently investigate killings by police and use of excessive force in Nairobi and Nyanza during post-election protests.
  • Ensure that individuals reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for serious human rights violations and abuses, including those identified by the investigations conducted by the IPOA, are brought to justice in fair trials not subject to the death penalty and that victims and their families are adequately compensated.
  • Ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society to be able to work without fear of reprisals.